John McManus: Maternity hospital row has as much to do with money as God

Irish Times

John McManus

It is strange state of affairs when a former president of the High Court has to come out and publicly declare that a new maternity hospital will not be run by nuns. But such is the level to which the debate about the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) moving to the St Vincent’s hospital campus has descended.

It is of course physically impossible for the Sisters of Charity to run anything at this stage. There are just 213 of them in Ireland and their average age is 76. You cannot help feeling that after a lifetime of thankless personal service all that the majority of them want to run is as far away from this mess as possible.

Their ability to influence what sort of medicine is practised at St Vincent’s and possibly the new NMH is very limited, and by the time the new hospital is built and opened it will be even less.

In any case Nicholas Kearns, the former High Court president and deputy chairman of the NMH, is confident the agreement they have with the St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) is bulletproof. Rhona Mahony, the master of NMH, is equally confident.

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